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Important Tips about Child Restraint

Defining the New LATCH System – Part III


Frequently Asked Questions


Q.  How do I know if my child safety seat has LATCH attachments?


A. LATCH attachments on child safety seats should be obvious on the product.  These   attachments may be flexible (a strap with a hook on the end) or rigid (an inflexible, firm bar with a connector on the end).  The LATCH attachments will likely be (1) threaded through the path provided on the child safety seat that is to be used to secure the seat to the vehicle using the vehicle's belt system in non LATCH-equipped vehicles, or (2) attached to the lower portion of the child safety seat.  Most forward-facing child safety seats will also have a top tether strap that attaches to the top anchor in the vehicle.  Check the vehicle owner's manual and child restraint manufacturer's instructions.


Q. A retailer is selling child safety seats without LATCH after the September 1, 2002 deadline.  Is this legal?


A. Yes. The requirement only applies to child safety seats manufactured on or after September 1, 2002.  Seats manufactured before September 1, 2002—without the LATCH system may still be sold. 

Q. Do I need to buy a new carseat?  Is LATCH safer than using the seatbelts for installation?  

A. Not necessarily.  A carseat PROPERLY installed with a seatbelt should be as safe as one properly installed with LATCH.  LATCH should make it easier to get a proper installation.

Q.  Who makes LATCH child safety seats and where can I buy one?

A.   Since the regulation notes that child safety seats manufactured after September 1, 2002 must be LATCH-equipped, all child safety seat manufacturers will be making LATCH-equipped child safety seats.  The LATCH-equipped child safety seats will be available in the same stores (discount clubs, toy stores, specialty shops) that currently sell non-LATCH-equipped child safety seats


Q. Can I still use a LATCH carseat it in a vehicle that does not have LATCH?  

A. Yes.  All new carseat models will be backward compatible with seatbelt installations.

Q. I heard the middle seat is safest, but our vehicle only has LATCH on the outside, what should I do?  

A. Any position in the rear is safe.  First try installing with the seatbelt in the center if it fits well and is allowed by the carseat and vehicle owner's manuals.

Q. Can I use top tethers or LATCH with my booster seat?  

A. Generally not.  Most boosters are exempt, and will not even have LATCH.   Some Century/Graco combination models do allow top tether use as a booster above 40 pounds.  Please consult the owner's manual of your carseat and LATCH retrofit kit for details.

Q. Can I use both LATCH and the Seatbelt?

A. Only one or the other is needed, you should generally use the one that provides the best fit.  Technically, you could use both but it is not necessary.

Q. Where do I get a tether anchor for my vehicle?  

A. Contact your local dealer or your manufacturer to see if a kit specific to your vehicle exists.  Some dealers will install an anchor for free.

Q. Can I use a tether on my convertible seat when it is rear-facing?  

A. NO, unless it is specifically stated in the manual.  Britax, for example, allows this on some of their models.

Q. What are the best LATCH child safety seats on the market? 


A.  All child restraints must meet Federal safety performance standards, therefore the best LATCH child safety seat is going to be the one that is easiest for you to use properly and is used every trip.  While all child safety seats must meet Federal safety standards, NHTSA has proposed rating child safety seats for ease of use; how well they perform in a simulated crash test. NHTSA proposed providing the results of these ratings to the public, beginning in 2003. With these ratings we hope market forces will encourage manufacturers to design child restraints that are easier to use and provide additional safety performance above the standard.

Also see:

Safety Issues for Cars & Drivers  

Emergency:Loss of Steering Due to a Blowout -learn these important tips for dealing with a sudden blowout.

Emergency: Driving on Flooded Roads -it's been raining for hours and you have to drive.  Read on...

6 Must-Know Tips for Driving on Snow and Ice -yes that snow looks pretty out the window, but what about driving on it?

Road Trip and Traveling Safety for the Entire Family  -Learn all about packing your car...and yourselves for that long road trip.



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